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Paris Travel Guide

You only turn 40 once, so why not celebrate in a big way! A few months before her birthday, my wife floated the idea of traveling to Paris for her 40th. It sounded great but I figured it was out of our reach. With flight and hotel, it would probably cost too much. But it actually didn’t! Her birthday is in January, which is the offseason for travel to most European destinations so flights and hotels are much cheaper. After adding everything up, our trip to Paris would cost close to what a party at a nicer restaurant would. So we decided to go! In the guide below I will share where we stayed, what we ate and what we did. I will also share some tips and suggestions for your trip.

Why Paris

Paris is the city of lights and love. It’s been on my wives travel list for as long as I can remember. Known for its endless cafes, bakeries and rich history, there is plenty to do and see, even on a short trip like ours. Plus it’s the perfect city to celebrate your birthday. 

Travel Tip: When looking at flights, expand your destinations to other countries. I like to use the United travel map to check airfare. Enter your travel dates, origin and you can easily see airfare to destinations across the globe. We were set on Paris but this is a great way to find cheap airfare to different destinations.

Where we stayed.

When looking for accommodations, we wanted something in central Paris to make travel within the city easy. We wanted to not only walk to many of the attractions but also to walk and experience the cafes and restaurants that Paris is known for. The best way to experience Paris is to get lost in the city and our hotel was in the perfect locations. We picked the Hilton Paris Opera The hotel is located right in the city center next to a big metro stations. It’s also walkable distance (30-40 minutes) to the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and other attractions. 



Travel Tip: The hotel rooms in Europe are much smaller than what we’re used to back home. We had a Jr King Suite and even that was small by US standards. But remember, you’re here to experience the city, not to spend a lot of time in the hotel room. 

Getting Around

Before we dive into our activities and all the tasty food we ate, let’s cover how to get around Paris. As I mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to experience Paris is to get lost in the city. The streets are small, go in different directions and are packed with small cafes, restaurants, bakeries and shops. The best way to see it all is to walk. And that’s how we got around to most attractions. 

Our hotel was within 30-40 minutes walking distance to most major attractions and it made experiencing the city that much better. I used the Apple Maps app on my phone and we were always able to find our way around the city. When searching for walking directions just change the method from Drive to Walk. 

Paris does have a public transit system in place, both subway and bus, but honestly we never felt like we needed to use it. 

Travel Tip: Check with your wireless provider on what options they have for international travel. We have AT&T and it costs $10 per day extra to use our phones in Paris. Calls, texts and data are all included.

We did also use Uber a few times when going to dinner or back to the airport. The rates are very reasonable and the city had plenty of them. I prefer using Ubers over Taxis because you can enter your destination in the app so there’s never any miscommunication due to the language barrier. It seemed like most people speak at least a little bit of English, but it’s just easier to do via the app. 

What We Did

Our trip was for 4 nights, and we wanted to maximize our time to see as much as we can. We went without our kids and were able to stay out later than usual. After doing some research beforehand, we picked the sights and activities that we wanted to do. A full itinerary is listed at the end of this guide.

Most flights from the US to Europe are overnight. Our flight landed in Paris at 10AM local time and we arrived at the hotel, by Uber, around 11:30AM. Our room was ready early so we were able to freshen up and head right out. 

Eiffel Tower

This is probably Paris’ most famous attraction. The iconic Eiffel Tower, located on the banks of the Seine river. This was about a 35 minute from our hotel. Seeing the Eiffel Tower is completely free. You can purchase a ticket to ride or walk up to the second level for some amazing views. Start but experiencing it from the ground first. It’s a massive structure and you really get to see the beauty of it up close. Because of its size, it can be tricky getting a good shot with your camera. I marked some of the better locations on the map below. 

My favorite spots were from the bridge located directly in front of it and from the grassy area located on the other side. Feel free to walk around and experience it from different directions. It really is magnificent in person. 

On both sides of the tower, there are security checkpoints that you must go through in order to get closer. These areas are free to enter and they bring you right to the tower. I also recommend purchasing a ticket to go up to the 2nd level. You get the best views of Paris from all 4 sides. You can purchase tickets there or you can preorder on your phone for a specific time. I highly recommend purchasing them in advance as it tends to get pretty busy. 

Be sure to visit the Eiffel Tower at night as well. The whole structure is lit up and at the top of every hour hundreds of lights start to twinkle. This light show lasts for 5 minutes and is worth seeing

Click for more info

Travel Tip: There are street vendors selling souvenirs, toys, etc.. all along the Eiffel Tower. The products they sell are cheaply made and they will try to sell it at a premium. Save your money and buy from official gift shops instead. 

Arc de Triomphe

A short walk from the Eiffel tower is the historic Arc de Triomphe. It’s one of the most famous monuments in Paris and it was built to honor those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. It’s another massive structure that is worth seeing in person. 

Just like the Eiffel Tower, seeing the monument and getting up close is free. But if you want to climb to the top, which again I highly recommend, you have to purchase a ticket. You get more great views of Paris and the best view down the historic Champs-Elysees. And to avoid the long lines, purchase your ticket in advance to help speed up the process. 

Click for more info


This is worth mentioning on it’s own because it’s a historic street that runs down from the Arc de Triomphe. It’s filled with cafes, restaurants and luxury shops. If you’re visitng the Arc, you should walk down the Champs-Elysees right after. 

Luxor Obelisks

Located right down Champs-Elysees, directly across from the Arc de Triomphe is the Luxor Oblisks. It’s a giant spear like structure that dates back to ancient Egypt. It was brought to France from Egypt in the 1800’s. The beauty of this structure is that it was carved from one piece of granite and is adorned with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. 

Louvre Museum

Behind the Luxor Obelisks is a big park and at the end of that park is probably the most famous museum in the world, the Louvre. Entrance to the museum is via a giant glass pyramid in the front. You can purchase tickets there, but just like everything else so far in this guide, I recommend you purchase them online ahead of time. This will guarantee timely entry. The Louvre is probably most known for the Mona Lisa, It’s located in the museum and the painting is much smaller in person… But the museum has plenty of other beautiful artifacts and paintings, and you can easily spend most of the day walking through. 

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Notre-Dame Cathedral 

Another must see in Paris is Notre-Dame Catherdral. Unfortunately it’s still going repairs and renovations from the fire, so the inside is closed, but you can see it from the outside. It’s a beautiful cathedral, located right on the Seine river. After admiring the cathedral, take a walk down the riverfront to experience many of the cafes and shops right by the river. 

Palace of Versailles 

Located about 30 minutes outside the city by train, is the Palace of Versailles. This is the furthest attraction we did and i’m so glad we did it. We booked this tour through Viator and they made the experience super fun. We met our guide at a local train station in Paris and they handled all the transportation to the Versailles, skip the line entry to the palace, tour guide, and transportation back. The whole experience took about 4 hours.

Our guide explained all the rooms we visited and the historical significance. Once we were done with the inside, everyone was free to explore the palace gardens on their own. This was a great way to see everything we that we wanted. When we were done, we just walked back to the train station and took the train back to Paris. Highly recommend this guided tour!

Luxury Shopping

Everyone knows that Paris is at the center of the fashion world and there’s plenty of luxury designer stores to experience that. You can walk in and see all the items from places like Channel, Dior, YSL and others! Each brand has their own stores and you can walk in and see what’s available. Trust me when I say this, even if you’re now into designer fashion, it’s super fun to go into these stores and see what’s available. There’s a whole street lined with these shops by Champs-Elysees. 


As much as I love visiting historic monuments and major attractions, my favorite part of Paris was just walking around and exploring the streets. The city and all the streets are FILLED with small cafes, restaurants, bistros, bakeries, etc… And many of them have seating right outside on the sidewalk. It’s what Paris is known for and if you’re going, you should experience it. Take a different street each time you go somewhere to see what gems you can discover. 

Everyone seemed very helpful and knows enough English where you can communicate. Try the baguettes, pastries, wine with lunch, it’s all there to explore. 

Travel Tip: Most places accept major credit cards, but some street vendors are cash only. Exchange some dollars to Euros at the airport before you leave. You can also use ATMs in Paris, but I found them to be less reliable. 

What we ate

Food is obviously a big part of what I do, and I want to share with you all what we ate on our trip. From traditional French foods to known favorites, there’s something for everyone. 

French Cafes/Bistros

When I think of Paris, cafes are the first place that come to mind. The city is littered with them. They are on every street corner and they serve everything from coffee, pastries to full meals. These are the places you want to explore. They are known for having seating right on the sidewalk.

There was one by our hotel called La Pepiniere. We went there for dinner one evening and the food was delicious. We had the Beef Bourguignon ( a classic French dish) and Beef Stroganoff. Paired it with a glass of Bordeaux and you have a classic French meal.  

The beef bourguignon is a slow roasted and braised beef cheek, that’s shredded and made into a delicious stew with veggies and a red wine sauce. Most cafes will have their own version of this dish and I highly recommend you try it. 

Another great cafe that we visited was Les Deux Magots. Located close to Notre Dame Cathedral, it has a classic French vibe and a delicious lunch menu. 


Ok, if you follow my Instagram or Facebook stories, you know that these are my favorite! I love, love baguettes and the ones I had in Paris were AMAZING. It’s delicious on it’s own or you can have a sandwich. Most bakeries will have many sandwich options but the classic Jambon Beurre is my go to. It’s 3 ingredients: baguette, butter and ham. That’s it. Easy, simple and delicious. And very cheap too lol. Anytime we passed a new bakery I had to stop by and get one. Let’s just say I ate a LOT of baguettes during our trip….

Some of my favorites were Eric Kayser and Laurent Dheilly

Snails and Frog Legs

Stick with me here, stick with me! These are 2 classic French dishes and they are delicious. Let’s start with the snails first, or escargot (that’s the fancy name for cooked snails). They are cooked in their shells, in a variety of flavored butters. The classic (garlic butter) and truffle are my favorite. You are served a platter of snails, usually 6 per order, scoop them out with a tiny fork and eat them. They are buttery, garlicy and absolutely amazing! 

And the frog legs are like the French chicken wings lol. Small, tiny bones, super tender meat and they are so fun to eat! They make a great appetizer and they sort of do taste like chicken. 

We went to the restaurant Escargot Montorgueil that’s known for their snails and frog legs, and it did not disappoint. If you’re in Paris, you have to try these 2 items. Both are a big part of their cuisine and are very worth trying. 

Guy Savory Restaurant

This was a bucket list item for me. It’s a 2 Michelin Star restaurant, and in my opinion, the pinnacle of fine dining. There is a traditional menu as well as a fixed chefs menu. We went with the fixed menu where you pay per person and the chef prepares a 9 course meal. And it was spectacular. All the items work together so well and they all play a story that comes to an end with a delicious dessert. If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend experiencing fine dining this way. From the food to the service to the ambiance, everything works together so well and makes the experience that much more enjoyable. 

Click for more info

More Food

We were here for 4 nights only and barely scratched the surface of the food scene. If you come to Paris, just try as much as you can. French cuisine is ranked some of the best in the world for a reason. I can honestly say that we have not had a bad bite the entire time. Everything is made fresh, baked daily, cooked daily and is worth trying!

Our 4-Night Itinerary

Day 1:

  • Arrive in the morning and check into hotel
  • Walk to Eiffel Tower
  • Grab a late lunch at a corner cafe/bistro
  • Walk to Arc de Triomphe
  • Walk down and explore Champs-Elysees
  • Grab dinner from cafe

Day 2

  • Sleep in a bit to adjust to the time change
  • Quick breakfast at the hotel
  • Walk to Luxor Obelisks
  • Walk through the park towards the Louvre Museum
  • Grab a baguette sandwich for lunch along the way
  • Explore the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa
  • Dinner at Le Escargot to try snails and frog legs

Day 3

  • Baguette ham sandwich for breakfast
  • Walk to Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Explore the area along the river
  • Lunch at Les Deux Magots
  • Walk to Eiffel Tower and explore
  • Take the elevator to the 2nd level
  • Dinner at La Pepiniere
  • Back to the Eiffel Tower to see it light up at night

Day 4

  • Quick breakfast at the hotel
  • Palace of Versailles tour
  • Late lunch at corner cafe/bistro/baguette sandwich
  • Relax and get ready for dinner
  • Dinner at Guy Savoy Paris
  • Uber back to hotel after an amazing meal!


About Maciek

I make easy meals that anyone can replicate at home. I’m not a professionally trained chef, just your average guy that likes to fire up the grill. So follow along and see what’s cooking today!

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